Harbours – Everything From Here On Out / EP (2014)

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So one night I’m scrolling through fussbook as you do… and someone shares a link…”hey check this band out! *link” …I scroll past…but no more than a few minutes later I see someone else sharing the same link. Then another. Then another. By then I was curious enough to find out what was so good about it and so…I obeyed social protocol and I clicked the link. It went to a download page for a new act called ‘Harbours’. Who just dropped a 3 track demo/ep called ‘Everything From Here On Out’.

I hit play.. > #1 ‘Shelved’
They kick things off with a pop-punk guitar strumming intro and the band kicks in few bars later to a solid halftime/heavy groove. Then 8 bars in.. it breaks.. and *bam*..double time. The first thing I noticed is this sounds way too good for a demo. This sounds killer…better up loud too! I turn it up a little more. I’m sucked in. Sounding a lot like a StorySoFar/NewFoundGlory combo till the end of the song approaches and then its like an aussie Further Seems Forever tribute. I think I’m in love.

Track #2 ‘Golden’ gives us a great tom-filled drum intro before upping into more pop-punk double time fun, vocals kick right back in..with a very solid performance here too. You get some high notes, some shouts, even some low harmonies and at times a quieter delivery than normal. These are dynamics often missing from pop punk vocalists. Another thing I’m appreciating as I listen are the very subtle harmonies and vocal doubling. These elements are usually up more up front to either enhance the vocals ..like an effect…or worse .. to cover up the performance if it’s not strong enough. Not the case here. Everything that’s working is done with subtlety.
By the end here the vocals and the energy get pulled right back to a kind of mellow instrumental with clean guitars and roomy drums. It’s an awesome move and takes it’s time to settle down to an end.

#3 ‘Room Without A View’ has a mid paced sad-ballad ‘Citizen’ vibe about it…the chords carry a certain melancholy to them. It all comes across like it should.. that grungey/emo sound. The chorus is killer…total heart-string stuff…it’ll be something to watch for at shows, as people catch on the lighters will go up, people will sing along. Yup.. these guys are sick. No wonder every one was sharing this around. Typically the bass is buried in the mix, like..yeh he’s in there but he’s practically invisible.. so that’s always some thing that grinds my gears. Get inventive bass players ..move..do something more than follow the guitars!! But anyway..

This band is going to make a big impression if not for the quality of this material then definitely for the style and execution of something that’s been well and truly worn and done by many others. It’s not new, it’s not pushing the boundaries. ‘Harbours’ just seem to be playing all the good bits of their songs…all the time! I cant wait to hear more 🙂

RIYL: Story So Far,Further Seems Forever, Light Years, Knuckle Puck
Get it here:
http://harboursaus.bandcamp.com
Stalk them.. here:
http://www.facebook.com/harboursaus

Dead Poets – Paper Crane / EP (2014)

The punk/hardcore scene often disregards bands for being too familiar and yet at the same time..kids ignore the innovators and boundary pushers because they are too different!
So what’s a band to do? Play it safe and risk getting lost in the masses or push things forward and risk being out on your own? Well in the case of Dead Poets, they’re doing a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B.

The EP opens with these beautiful clean/roomy guitars, screamed vocals and an ambience familiar to fans of the genre. It’s a great moody start and I was glad to hear the big thick guitars and massive drums shift the band into heavy-mode about a minute into it.. I knew at this point the band isn’t just going to stray from the path…they’re going to weave all over it. One minute there’s a big melodic heavy section and then it drops off to a more restrained and quieter passage. It builds up again and releases the tension with the ‘heavy/big’ bits. So it stays interesting but it’s not entirely new either. Track #2 is the continuation of that huge opening track and gives more of the same. I wonder why they didn’t just make it one big long track?
By now the post-rock meets post-hardcore style is well established and the delivery is spot on.  And..I reckon the comparisons to Pianos Become the Teeth won’t hurt at all and are perfectly accurate for this material.

The screaming/shouting vocals carry really well, there’s some nice clean/backing vox early on but they’re quite subtle. Lyrically there’s some really intriguing imagery being painted here and although I’m not quite sure of the meaning behind it all, there’s clearly some thought being put in there. It’s loaded with quotable and memorable lines and phrases!

Track #4 ‘If You’re the Cure…’ is a real highlight track. Starting with the scowling vocals/clean guitar start which seems to be a repeated formula here it’s not until the double time/punk rock pace kicks this in the right direction and it feels freeking great! It also contains some interesting drumming that sounds like it belongs in a metal core band but the twinkly guitars keep it from going there and it’s actually quite an interesting moment. It challenged my expectations of the band to do what is ‘normally done’ and kept me engaged waiting to see what they chose to do next. Nice one.

Where I felt it all start to loose it’s impact was in the last track…a straight up ‘la dispute/tiny moving parts’ spoken word start. The band kicks in again as with previous tracks and but now leaves nothing to the imagination. Not saying it’s boring, but I have heard this before by other bands and even on the earlier tracks here. There’s the reverb-laden leads wailing over the top of the nice melodic chords and roomy drums and it feels pretty big…epic actually. Maybe this is where I was hoping for more experimentation…clean backing vocals? Cello? Even a nice instrumental passage to fade out? Instead it feels like it just gets wrapped up..kind of like..’wah? That’s it?’

Overall its plenty long enough, there’s maturity and depth, plus huge replay value to this EP and I fully dug the bands surprises and confident delivery of post-rock-hardcore music. This is a really good release for people who want some not-metal or hardcore music which still carries passionate and emotional energy. It’s clever and it sounds really really good up loud! Kudos to the engineer 🙂

It’s a Pay What You Want release via bandcamp and if you feel inclined, I reckon it’s worth some coin. A pretty damn solid introduction to a band that I will be watching with great interest to see what they come up with next.

http://deadpoetsmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/deadpoetsmusic

RIYL: Pianos Become the Teeth, Tiny Moving Parts, Touche Amore, Calculator, Barrow, Caravels

Braidz – Painting Pictures / Mixtape (2014)

Normally I’m blogging about local bands I have come across that I want to promote. My tastes are not limited to only rock/punk and hardcore bands..of course..when you love music you tend to indulge in a broader variety of stuff because you see the value of the differences in the art form. So in saying that…I’m going to cast a wider net to include other styles I’m enjoying and want to push out there.

Braidz is a local hip hop artist from up in the hills of the Yarra Ranges. I’m noting this because it highlights that he isn’t surrounded by crew, clubs and heaps of scene stuff to fuel his passion. He has no real proving ground up there either. Largely the hip hop scene in Melbourne still centres in and around the city and inner suburbs. Why..? I don’t know. Doesn’t really work that way with hardcore.

So when this guy spends …honestly I don’t even know how long..developing his flow, lyrics, concepts and recording…he’s doing it cos he loves it and he probably needs to do it or risk loosing the plot. It’s like that for creative types! (Eg. Track #6 ‘Gotta Get Away)

So anyway here’s a collection of brave and honest music…very personal lyrics, quite open about what he thinks, transparent reflections on all types of issues…mental health, drug use, negative peers, lost friends and a bunch of other social issues. You’ll hear references to a lot of everyday life things..I love hearing messages that I can relate to! (Track #5 ‘Moron’ nails this for me!) Braidz has a clear delivery and is really easy to understand. He drops some double time, he paces himself well and knows how to use tone rather than just ‘one pitch the whole way through’. There’s some vocal doubling too which sometimes doesn’t quite sit with the top vocal..and that’s just a little thing that will get better with time cos it’s mostly on point! The many guests (whilst I didn’t know a single name) add a great dynamic and different voices to the material…and some of these guys can go ffffffast man!

Of course you’ll hear a fierce amount of language and sometimes a few more challenging terms. Probably my biggest stumbling block with this release over all…is the use of derogatory terms like bitch/faggots/cunt etc. Like…as an artist…as a wordsmith…the English language (as stupid as it is) has a lot of colour and applications. For all the effort that has been invested in the clever phrasing, interesting metaphors, deliberate pacing, syllables, breathing and creative energy…why bring it down with tasteless stuff like that? Anyway….

Musically this mixtape borrows from a huge array of supporting instrumental tracks…I hear a lot of guitar lines (#3 Bring Me Down), actual bass lines and some great drum samples that feel and sound live (or at least we’re live at time or recording!) and there’s plenty of electronic stuff too…but the presence of actual instruments draws me in way more than traditional hip hop beats every time. I got nothing against drum machines and MPC’s but yeh..that’s just too forgettable. The opening track ‘Painting Pictures’ makes great use of these band-dynamics and allows space for vocals, kicks in with the beat and drops off all as if they were players all right there tracking with Braidz. I feel like this could really work live and probably serve him well to stand out amongst the many others in the field. Maybe not. I dunno.

Track #9 ‘Till My Voicebox Breaks’ is over a solid melodic dub step track and there’s this great violin line that comes over and yeh…it really works. Last track #17 ‘Suicide Watch’ is over the top of this huge dirty wobbly bass and dub step loop…again it connects with Braidz delivery and energy and it totally works.

To me…this all sounds like an artist trying things out, not so much looking for a style but taking some risks and having a go with some different idea’s. If anything it showcases what this guy can do and suggests that he’s got some legit skills here. ‘Painting Pictures’ makes for some great driving music, has some funny moments and gets your head moving! I would have preferred it to be a shorter release though…17 is probably too many tracks for one sitting (though 3 of them are bonus tracks) and maybe the impact of say ..the best 10-11 songs would make it a real head turner.

I reckon there’s a contender here, find him on facey, go get this for free/pay what you want over on his bandcamp and see for yourself.

http://www.facebook.com/BraidzMC

http://braidz.bandcamp.com/album/painting-pictures-mixtape-2014

RIYL: early ILLY, Bliss n Esso, Pez, Aussie hip hopin general!

Mindset – Midnight Sky (2011)

Mindset played a mix of melodic-posi-metal-punk which started some years back ..way down in Tassie, poor bastards. (thats a mainland joke) They released a killer EP which got em on the scene-radar but suffered some lineup challenges and moved to Melbs to start afresh. Then shit got real > They wrote ‘Midnight Sky’. This album is stuffed full of non stop melodic shredding, riffage and fast drumming. First time I streamed this album (via pee records) it immediately reminded me of Strung Out/Rise Against or even early A Day To Remember stuff. Fast forward a few years and today kids would compare it to bands like Napoleon/Heartsounds or maybe even a bit of Architects? I dunno, but its a sound thats really taking off now.

Anyway as that novelty of ‘familiarity with new music’ wore off after a few listens and the slow burners started to show themselves…the whole package really clicked with me and I couldn’t stop jamming it. I booked the band for a show around the release of the album …  a clever plot to watch em play and purchase a hard copy for myself!

Worth it.

Tracks 1-2-3 blaze by effortlessly. They’re fast, flashy and full of cool bits. It’s a really strong way to kick it off. The first real grower track isn’t until #5 ‘Teenage Ghosts’. Tough to describe but it’s a different beast from the rest of this album. Slower, longer and displays way more depth.

The end of track 6 finishes with just the guitars repeating over a line that leads sweetly into track 7… an instrumental..but don’t expect anything less than breakneck speeds and mad riffage because that spins right into a seamless transition to track 8 where the vocals come back in. It’s a great bracket of music I never want to break it up…so I will actually skip it if I don’t have the required 8 minutes to hear them all in succession!!

In the later parts of the album you’ll hear some clean guitar and a few variations on all this fantastic noodling and lead work..but without the ferocity. It balances really well. Fantastic chord progressions, harmonies everywhere and tough as nails vocals all the way through. See…Matt does a rad job on the pipes. He mostly stays with a shouting kind of hardcore-esque vocal that’d you’d expect BUT he surprisingly drops real low and guttural when the breakdown moments call for it ..really supporting the metal intensity. He’s clear and easy to understand..that’s a big plus in my books.

Production wise it’s clean/tight and probably pro-tooled, nipped, tucked and slammed but this is just what it needs to be due to the intense palm muted chugging and triplets and just yeh…fast flashy busy bits. Clarity above all is important for this kind of punk/hardcore otherwise  you miss things. The bands first EP suffered from not achieving this production standard I think.

Wether by luck or design, there’s an undeniable flow and progression throughout which might help overcome the same-same-ness of the material for new comers. For me it just makes the whole thing fly by and I end up at track 10 without realising!

Since they’ve broken up … they offer up a free D/L of the album with links on their Facebook page. They broke up in 2012 just before dropping a EP/7″ vinyl which we’ll never get to hear (*sigh..) but at least this record exsists. Seriously one of my absolute favourites.

Facebook > https://www.facebook.com/ourmindset

Pee Records Bandcamp > http://peerecords.bandcamp.com/album/midnight-sky

 

Travels – Death & Things Between (2014)

This is a band from Brisbane who have produced something equal parts interesting & ambitous. To say it’s only a 2-track release doesnt give you any indication that its actually 12 minutes of music!
It isn’t a prog..or even a concept album per se’ … but it definitely has the structure and flow to it that i guess..feels like a complete body of work and tells a tale..if you read the lyrics that is! If you’re just listening..then just rely on dem feels.

It isn’t a new release, it dropped as a digital/vinyl via Arrest Records back in July 2013 but i wont be suprised if you are only hearing about them now for the first time.

It’s recorded live in-studio.. and you can kinda tell just from the production style, noises and sounds however the performance from the band is un-faltering. They have the chops. I’ve gone over this one a few times.. whenever there was a lengthy enough drive or something to get right into it and man..it’s great.

Style? Post hardcore, sure..that’ll cover it..if you’re just after a blanket statement. The arrangements are pretty clever, it starts off fairly straight forward with yelling and power chords and driving drums…. kind of La Dispute-ish until about 1 minute in..then things pull right back and we get twinkly guitars and the yelling/screaming continues.. but now theres backing/echoing vocals and restraint. Soon after the band kicks back into full swing starts to sound much closer to what Tiny Moving Parts/Touche Amore are doing.. just with an aussie accent! The band does this build-and-release thing quite well and by a bout 3 1/2 minutes in i begin to understand the rythm. The clean guitar/roomy drums really draw me in as a listener..sounds great and then when the hammer drops and the heavy bits connect..its very powerful. Probably because of the rise and fall songwriting mechanics at work here.
If you enjoy the emotive, NOT-METAL BUT STILL INTENSE stuff like some of the bands ive mentioned..then yeh.. this’ll grab you in the guts.
I reckon they’d be great live, but for now im happy with the sound in my ear holes.

Pay What You Want or FREE D/L… so good! Worth some dollars if you got it..

You find em on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/travelsmusic
You download this stuff here: http://travail.bandcamp.com/album/death-things-between

The Lost – Self Titled EP

Ep Final

Sitting somewhere between melodic and anthemic rock this outfit goes hard and does so with a sheen and polish that suggests they didnt JUST start playing..know what i mean?! It’s cliche free, slick and sounds rrrreally good.
And..like when i say rock..lets be clear: NOT like Jet/Nickelback/FooFighters. Not Triple M rock.

EP opener #1 ‘Wake Up’ is all business…great energy, huge chorus, high vocals, big guitars and a kind of urgency and melancholy that made me really look forward to listening to the rest!! 10 points for starting off so strong! #2 ‘Weightless’ is a more straight down the line melodic-rock but stacked with huge drums, crazy vocal work and a great pace. By this point i was comparing them to early Anberlin in my head.

It rolls back a gear for #3 ‘I Wont Let you Go’ which allows the vocalist to really carry the song and sentiment without the powerhouse driving it.. by all accounts this is the quietest the band gets on the whole EP. The group vocals towards the end are a nice touch too!

The EP closer #5 ‘Fate Is Not Enough’ hits all the right bits you’d expect by now. Fantastic vocal work and melodies, drums are too good.. (turns our Dead Letter Circus drummer did the job for them!) and of course some very cool guitar work .. especially the little lead/solo but in the middle! Despite all these strong points.. i found the Dead Letter Circus/Built On Secrets/Closure In Moscow comparisons were just too great to ignore by now. It’s not that this is well worn territory for bands who can deliver high calibre performances and songwriting..it’s not the familiarity of material ive never heard before…it’s the frequency of drifting off mid-song to consider which band ‘this bit’ reminds me of instead of being conencted to the music and engaged with it.

The production on this is just awesome too. The sounds and layers and work that must’ve gone into this is evident…I mean turn it up and really listen to it. Local bands > this is what time and hard work will acheive. Save up your dollars.

In closing.. this is a really strong start, the craftmanship is right up there and the sound is tight. ‘The Lost’ have something really good to work with here and i mean..if they can translate this into a live setting…geez…watch out. Melbourne will lap this up. I do think that if there’s anything this band needs to do from here it’s gotta be to branch out and try messing with the formula. Like..really mess with it. That’s what will set them apart from just following the legacy of artists who came before them and turn them into one with a sound of thier own.

Pay What You Want from http://thelost.bandcamp.com/ on May 30th.
Free D/L of single from the same page!
Follow em on http://www.facebook.com/TheLostAU

Hollows – Birds Of Passage EP (2014)

I want to say something like ‘these guys have just come out of nowhere with an incredible debut ep’ but… it wouldnt really be true. Fact is they’ve been around for a little while doing occasional shows, refining it all and chucked a demo up on thier bandcamp ages ago. They flew under the radar whilst writing and preparing for what would be a proper arrival rather than a watch-em-grow kind of approach. Im glad they did. It seems they have channeled all the right energy along with all kinds of hurt/pain/loss and other creative fuel into this. An absolute stunner of a local release. 6 tracks of intense, emotive, angry and melodic music.

Sylistically its easy to use words like emo/hardcore to describe it, but genre casting can be so derivitive. But .. there’s big similarities to past aussie bands like ‘Hopeless’ and ‘Break Even’.. so if you ever lost your shit to those incredibly depressing and amazing hardcore bands.. then this too will gut you. In a good way.

The intro to track #3 Cold Grey gives me shivers..its hauntingly beautiful with it’s distance/uber reverb laden guitar and softly sung vocal .. oh man yes. In fact..the kick off to track #5 ‘Visions’ .. with the guitar build up and vocals over the top…all building and then it just stops. Silence. A few seconds pass and then *boom.. band comes in and it’s all business again. Nailed it.

Bits like these really amplify the impact of the music. This band has clearly given thought to the way it would all flow and work. The guitar work in the instrumental opening to the last track on the ep ‘Fall or Fly’ makes it clear that whilst there’s plenty of screaming, heavy and angry energy..the goal here is to convey feeling.

Overall if you like your music with feeling..then stop what you’re doing.. seriously.. CTRL + T.. new window..
http://hollows-aus.bandcamp.com/ .. it’s pay what you want to.
Follow them on facey.. http://www.facebook.com/hollowsband

RIYL: Hopeless, Break Even, Trophy Eyes, Me Without You, Touche Amore etc al

Set The Score – Two Steps Forward (2014)

The three tracks on offer here sound like they were lifted from an album and put together as a sampler to show the variety and quality on the imaginary full length. I guess in that way, this is a great demo..they’re showing off a whole range of approaches and ideas at work in each of the three songs, the production is simple and the performances are believable. Meaning: theres minimal over playing and expensive studio trickery which you wouldnt expect to hear live.

This is definitely modern pop-punk just with more rock feel than actual punk. Similar to bands such as Pentimento or Wonder Years rock these days. Theres a few passages of double-time fun sure, plus a few deeper halftime moments and even a big chunky breakdown (complete with guest screaming vocalist)..all the typical trademarks of a band trying to fit it and yet ironically wanting to stand out. (u see the conundrum yes?)
To be quite frank..It should be boring. It’s stuff ive heard a hundred times before from a hundred other bands…mostly american ones. However something has got me coming back for another listen…and another listen. The songs arent brief either and lyrically they have some depth too. I cant put my finger on just why.. but i get the feeling that this band will transcend the trappings of ‘local-band-emulating-thier-influences’ to resemble a band that is influential on others.

I hope they can write 7 more of these tunes and then call it an album.

Well done lads.
Free/Pay What You Want – release via http://setthescoremelb.bandcamp.com/
Follow em on f/b > https://www.facebook.com/setthescoremelb